Have you ever stopped in front of a painting and felt that you could see beyond the colours? Have you ever read a book and felt that you could see beyond the words? The other day, after I had just arrived in Utrecht, I felt that I could see beyond the walls of its beautiful tower.
The Dom Tower is the “grand dame” and mistress of Utrecht. She rises majestically from the heart of this charming Dutch city. I did not need a map to find my way on my first walk. When I just got off the bus, I looked to the horizon and I saw her. She was there.
She was looking at me as well, like this kind of portrait whose eyes always follow you although you move around. The Dom Tower is the polar star that shines a path for the visitors and the drunks. She is always a fixed point, a guide, a compass for the pilgrim and also for the wandering.
However, this beautiful lady hides a broken heart for the eternity. Nowadays, when you arrive here, you will meet a stronger, independent and single woman, nevertheless, it is not always like it seems. She was married with the gothic Saint Martin church.
They were a perfect couple.
She is tall (at 122 metres – the tallest church tower in the Netherlands) and intelligent. He is strong and sensible. Indoors, the prayers and the songs are filling the silence of the walls. Outdoors, their gargoyles, pinnacles, windows and arches are the actors of a delicate plot.
Then, one night in the medieval year of 1674, like a damnation, a tornado went through the heart of the lovers. The nave that joined them, was fiercely destroyed by the strength of a storm. Their walls fell down to the floor like the memories and the dreams shared between them. For a long time, they remained on the ground, without being collected, like when you break a relationship and you just wait for time – it cures all.
The citizens of Utrecht have learnt from the past instead of trying to erase it. They prefer that the traces remain for future generations. In the square, the cobblestones mark the shadows of the walls that have collapsed, thus you can stand up and try to reconstruct in your mind the past that was and will never be again.
Since then, the Dom tower and the Church of San Martin have been lovers that regard each other with desire, who are so close but at the same time so far away, they will love forever even if their nave will never be reconstructed.